It seems like everyone’s planning a trip to Sri Lanka at the moment. The small, teardrop-shaped island is dubbed the ‘diamond of the Indian ocean’ – and it’s easy to see why.
Lush yet sun-drenched, the country is a haven for holiday makers seeking a getaway with a difference. The landscape is beautiful, the people welcoming and the hoppers (a Sri Lankan breakfast food, similar to pancakes), delectable.
The popularity of the country as a holiday destination explains why beautiful, Instagrammable hotels are popping up left, right and centre – such as Resplendent Ceylon’s latest offering, Wild Coast Tented Lodge.
The luxury resort company, behind the incredibly popular Ceylon Tea Trails and Cape Weligama, has put down roots in the very south of the island and opened a hotel on the coastline and the very edge of Yala National Park.
Wild Coast Tented Lodge, which opened in November 2017, isn’t like any hotel you’ll ever stay in. Located in an untapped wilderness, it’s something of a slog to get to (more on that later) but the journey is worth it. The experience begins the second your car ambles down the bumpy 10-minute long track to the hotel’s lobby.
A sign detailing when a leopard or elephant was last spotted on the same track instantly makes clear just how at one with nature you are.
The hotel itself is less of a hotel and more a collection of luxury pods. It’s glamping – but as you’ve never seen it before.
Some 28 arched fabric structures are decked out with a four poster bed, copper freestanding bath, beautiful wooden and leather furnishings and a Sonos sound system. There’s been no scrimping on interior design here.
Each pod boasts a viewing deck (and some a plunge pool) overlooking a watering hole, where you may spot a jungle cat slink by for a drink and be treated to a visit from a curious monkey.
If you opt for a pod without a pool, fear not; a spacious pool for all guests to enjoy can be found in the huge communal pod where you’ll also find the restaurant and bar.
Come armed with an empty stomach – the food is divine. For breakfast, make sure you try traditional Sri Lankan hoppers and for dinner don’t miss the black pepper tuna followed by the hot chocolate fondant. Millennials should give the avocado ice cream a whirl.
Take the time to enjoy a pre-dinner Earl Grey Negroni or the non-alcoholic Sri Lankan lemonade (infused with a mix of cinnamon, cloves and cardamon) in the adjacent bar, while listening to the waves and playing backgammon.
But while the food – and setting – is gorgeous, those aren’t Wild Coast Tented Lodge’s selling points.
Sat practically on top of the famous Yala National Park, a stay at the resort includes two daily game drives, giving you a chance to see Sri Lanka’s animals at peace in their natural habitat.
Accompanied by one of the hotel’s knowledgable rangers, you’ll get the chance to see elephants, monkeys, crocodiles, sloth bears and, yes, leopards. All from the safety of an elevated jeep and minutes from the resort.
Located on the coastline, in the south of Sri Lanka, Wild Coast Tented Lodge is fairly removed from the rest of the country – but that’s part of its appeal.
From Bandaranaike International Airport in Colombo, you’re looking at a six-hour drive. You don’t have to drive yourself, though. Most tourists hire drivers during their stay, as it’s a fairly affordable (not to mention easy) way to get around.
We were in Kandy, the country’s cultural capital, prior to our stay at Wild Coast Tented Lodge, and opted to book a driver.
We broke up the six-hour drive with lunch in Ella (a popular stop in the hill country) and were kept amused throughout the drive with the spectacular scenery and wildlife. The journey cost us around £70.
Alternatively, you could break up your journey with a stop in the Heritage-listed fort city of Galle. There’s a very easy-to-navigate, two-hour train that runs from Colombo train station to Galle and only costs around £2 per person. From Galle, you could hire a driver for the four-hour drive along the coast.
Rates at Wild Coast Tented Lodge start from $445 per person per night on an all-inclusive basis to include daily breakfast, lunch, afternoon cream tea, dinner, beverages including house spirits and wines and two game drives per day.
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